While the Island of Jersey has strict regulations in relation to granting residency status, it is possible to purchase what is known as "unrestricted property". In essence, this is property that does not fall within the ambit of the Housing (Jersey) Law 1949 and regulations made under it (referred to in this briefing as the "Law") due to historical loop-holes in the Law. Ownership of such a property will enable a non-residentially qualified individual to occupy, notwithstanding the provisions of the Law.
Categories of unrestricted property
There were three loop-holes in the Law creating three distinct categories of unrestricted property as follows:
- Property acquired by a company prior to the coming into force of the Law: Residential property which was acquired by a company prior to the Law coming into force and which is still owned by that same company is unrestricted property. The ownership of the shares in such a company can be transferred to a non-residentially qualified individual without being subject to any housing consent. If the company were to sell the property to a third party, then the property would lose the benefit of the loop-hole.
- Property inherited by a company prior to 9 June 1993: A property which passed to a company pursuant to the terms of a will prior to 9 June 1993 falls outside the scope of the Law. Ownership of the shares of such a company by a non-residentially qualified individual enables that individual to occupy the property.
- Property acquired by dégrèvement prior to 9 June 1993: A property which was acquired by a company prior to 9 June 1993 by way of a subrogation in a dégrèvement is unrestricted property. A dégrèvement is a form of bankruptcy procedure whereby immovable property vests in a creditor by an Act of the Royal Court.
It should be noted that these loop-holes have now been closed. Accordingly, the stock of unrestricted property is limited with the consequence that such properties attract a premium price.
Unlike an application pursuant to the Housing (General Provisions) (Jersey) Regulations 1970 for wealthy applicants to acquire Jersey housing qualifications pursuant to regulation 1(1)(k), there is no such process required to purchase an unrestricted property and there is no public record of the transaction or change of ownership.
Points to note
A purchaser of unrestricted property will not be of the same status as other residentially qualified Islanders and cannot be employed or employ and set up his own business in the Island as of right. After a period (currently 12 years) of continuous residency in Jersey, a person will acquire housing qualifications in his/her own right.
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